Now Arriving: Gen Z

Millennials, millennials, millennials – so many of our clients are focused on Millennials and how to adapt their marketing strategies to this evolving consumer group. What characterizes them? How are they different? What drives them? As we complete each study and I think we’ve exhausted the conversation, we find ourselves once again pulled into the Millennial vortex. But don’t look now – here comes Gen Z. We have just released our first study on this group, whose habits, thoughts, emotions and more will be keeping marketers up at night next. So why is it important to keep examining a group in context? Why can’t we broad stroke and make blanket statements about consumer groups or generations, and just be done with it?

8 Truths About Gen Z  Download our NEW infographic now

That’s the question posed in this WSJ article. Usually generations are defined by their similar birth years, with spans of 20 years. But often these are fuzzy in setting definitions. Typically, academics and researchers look at ‘generations’ to identify the distinct group’s characteristics which, through comparison with previous generations, serve to measure social and cultural change. But this approach misses the nuances within and between the groups. And the nuances are where the marketing opportunity exists.

Our new Gen Z study looks into the factors driving Gen Z behavior – the fears, concerns, influencers and even the heroes that define this group. We compare and contrast Gen Z and Millennials, both of whom live in a mobile-centric world but view their increasingly, technology- and data-driven existence differently. So just when you thought you had mastered Millennials, it’s time to get to know the new kids on the block. Isn’t Marketing fun? Sure does keep us on our toes!

Gen Z Infographic

Bridging the Gap Between Doctor & Patient

Physicians – on average – spend 15-20 minutes with a patient for a typical office visit[1]. While 15-20 minutes may be sufficient for a general health checkup, for people dealing with a chronic condition (or multiple conditions) this time can seem limited.

Now imagine that you, yourself, are sitting in your doctor’s office and you have just been diagnosed with a chronic condition. The doctor was running 5 minutes late, and after some introductions and the information about your diagnosis, you now have 10 minutes left of your appointment. What is your doctor telling you about your condition – which, until 5 minutes ago, you may have never heard about? What do you want to know?

BuzzBack has been hard at work developing a methodology that gives us both the patient and physician perspectives on these issues, highlighting specific areas where there are gaps that may be able to be addressed by other stakeholders (e.g., pharmaceutical companies, health insurance companies, etc.).

For instance, our research found that when talking to COPD patients, while PCPs and Pulmonologists tend to focus a lot on treatment options, symptoms, and the origin of the condition when diagnosing a patient, there is less of a focus on overall health, which patients indicate being the top thing that they wish their HCP had spoken about when they had been diagnosed.

comm gaps word cloud


Check back here for more information about our upcoming webinar, where we’ll be presenting our research findings on Patient-Physician Communication Gaps. 


Doctor Patient Communication Gaps

Hysteria or Validated Concern? You Be the Judge.

As of October 19, 2016, there were 4,016 cases of Zika in the continental US. Of these cases, 137 were acquired in the US, and the remaining 3,878 cases were acquired in other countries[1].  Despite the low prevalence, Zika has gained wide media coverage across the US and is seen as a significant threat to many.

Here at BuzzBack, we were interested to find out what residents in the US and Brazil understood with regards to symptoms, transmission and prevention of Zika. According to our study, when asked to select the most severe among a list of outbreaks/pandemics, Zika was a close second to HIV/AIDS, selected by 20% (HIV/AIDS was selected by 24%). This may be surprising, given that HIV/AIDS impacts millions of people in the US[2].

Brazil, on the other hand, has faced far more Zika cases than in the US – over 90,000 new cases reported from January to April 2016 alone[3].  When asked to identify the most severe outbreak/pandemic, 24% listed Zika as their top concern (similar to that of the US) – whereas 44% indicate HIV/AIDS as the most severe.

zika graph

Data collected from PAHO & WHO:

While it is not surprising that Zika is particularly top of mind and viewed as relevant at the moment, what is surprising is that (1) the concern in the US appears to be comparable to that of HIV/AIDS – despite having FAR less of an impact and (2) the general concern in the US appears to be comparable to that of Brazil – despite vast prevalence.

By utilizing BuzzBack’s eCollage (a non-lexical, indirect format to reveal personal feelings, using images as metaphors to reduce dependency on rational thoughts), the drivers of concern in the US are identified. The key source of fear in the US is the unknown. Individuals know there is a lot of information on Zika, but they are unsure of what is true or false. They worry about how much the virus will spread, and fear they will not see it coming or would not know they’re infected until it is too late. Not understanding the disease fuels fear – Are there clear signs of infection? Can it be stopped? Is there a cure?

Does Zika warrant this grave concern?  Or is this more of a reflection of people in the US being impacted by heavy media coverage?  Will the media ultimately help give individuals a greater understanding of what Zika is all about? Are there certain organizations (e.g. CDC, WHO) who can help clarify concerns about Zika? Only time will tell…

If this topic interests you, head over to watch our latest webinar which features more insights from our Zika study.


[2] In 2014, 44,073 people were newly diagnosed with HIV infection in the United States; in 2012, 1,218,400 people were reported living in the US with HIV; and in 2013 there were an estimated 12,963 HIV/AIDS-related deaths.


The Heroes Around You

Today Team BuzzBack did our 3rd annual Komen Race For The Cure. In addition to being a day for raising awareness and funds, it was also a day of celebration. Last year at this time, one of our team was undergoing chemo. While last year she walked – this year she ran!  The event is also a day of honoring as well – many of the walkers and runners (some of them our clients and friends) wear posters on their backs, listing the names of their heroes for whom they walk/run.

komen race

Seeing our team together – both the newbies and those of us who marked our third time- reminds me of what teamwork is and how much ours goes above and beyond.  Teams inspire each other and make it easy to get the hard stuff done. The super demanding client requests, intense timelines, and need for speed  never go away. But teamwork makes it all easier to tackle. In particular it’s the little things that a teammate might do that makes it worth sticking it out through challenges. This event day was no different – they organized the race, designed and ordered the shirts, rallied the tired, cheered the sprinters — just a few examples.

At the end of the day, this is a reminder we don’t need celebrities to aspire to – the heroes and rock stars on our team are more than enough. The idea of hero elicits imagery of bravery, courage, admiration – those are the exact qualities that make up our team. When I see our effort in an event like this, I’m reminded that surrounding  myself with considerate, caring, collaborative people, I don’t have to be the captain. They are qualified to take charge – and often in the most important way. The good human way.

Millennials and Nutrition

There is an undeniable allure about BuzzFeed’s Tasty videos that have taken over Facebook in recent months. The flash of color from various ingredients, the mouthwatering sizzle of meats and the perfect organization of spice bowls on a minimalistic background makes it hard to tear your eyes away. Based on these three aspects alone, it makes a whole lot of sense that these videos have become wildly popular on Facebook these days.

However, I found myself confused by their sudden popularity – regardless of how aesthetically pleasing these videos were to the eye. I am surrounded by friends and family who pride themselves on eating a consistently clean, incredibly green diet; the kind of people who would have a full body reaction at the mere mention of eating something that was not plucked from the earth. Yet I found the same people fawning over how delicious and great the Tasty videos were, despite the seemingly endless piles of cheese present in several recipes.

Interestingly enough, watching any Tasty video provides immense insight into Millennial (or Gen Y – take your pick) eating trends and nutritional habits. As a Millennial myself, the Spinach Artichoke Mac & Cheese video was the first Tasty video that caught my attention.



The combination of all of my favorite things – food, organization and upbeat music – made it difficult to break my attention. I do not particularly enjoy either spinach artichoke dip or mac and cheese, yet I found myself wanting to prepare this dish for myself.

It turns out that Tasty’s enticement factor goes far beyond than its video design.

In a 2015 BuzzBack study, it was noted that the process of eating food was not seen as a means of survival amongst Millennials, but rather as an experience to be had. When prompted to think about “food” and “nutrition,” Millennials first thought about the “food experience,” which is the external projection of self via what they consume upon their peers, then “taste,” and finally “quality.” The actual components – protein, fat content, sugar, calories, etc. – of food, however, were revealed to be secondary thoughts amongst this demographic. This indicates that nutritional eating, while important, is not a primary concern to Millennials.

As noted by the same 2015 BuzzBack study (and perhaps by the behavior of my friends and family as well), Millennials do prize nutrition, but with the occasional indulgence.


 Want to learn about how Gen Z views food? Download our 8 Truths About Gen Z infographic and find out.

8 Truths About Gen Z  Download our NEW infographic now

So, what does this have to do with those mouthwatering Tasty videos?

In short, Tasty provides Millennial viewers with the ultimate food experience. With a simple “like” or share of a Tasty video on the Millennial’s social media account, they can indicate to their social sphere the kinds of food they like and what they can prepare. The close-up shots of the Spinach Artichoke Mac & Cheese slowly baking caters to the Millennial need of taste and quality. However, what is absent, but certainly not to the Millennial chagrin, is the nutritional value of each ingredient. It is yet another step for the Millennial viewer to learn about the nutritional value of their meal, which highlights that nutrition has taken the backseat amongst this demographic. This is not necessarily a bad thing, however.

As our 2015 study mentions, a company that is able to seamlessly blend nutrition and indulgence will be in a grand position for success amongst Millennials in the future. Given that Tasty is constantly updating its channel with new recipes and receiving millions of views, likes and shares across several social media platforms, it is safe to say that Tasty has successfully summarized what it means to eat as a Millennial in 2016.

Want to learn more about Gen Z? Our new Gen Z study looks into the factors driving Gen Z behavior – the fears, concerns, influencers and even the heroes that define this group. Download our 8 Truths About Gen Z infographic to learn more.

5 Milestones in the Patient Journey Every Healthcare Marketer Needs to Understand

Healthcare marketers are increasingly focused on more patient-centric approaches in order to develop effective ways to bridge gaps between patients & healthcare practitioners (HCPs). What used to be solely directed to physicians as prescribers and influencers for patients, now starts with patients.

Here’s why: understanding the patient experience involves understanding emotions around different milestones –   [1] pre-diagnosis suffering through [2] diagnosis, [3] post-diagnosis (3 months after), [4] living with the disease and [5] looking to the future while managing outcomes and treatment. And Patient Journey research is about focusing on these different milestones, in order to develop communications to improve the patient-doctor dialogue at each stage.

DOWNLOAD NOW!   'Mapping the Patient Journey' White Paper

And while we’ve developed our own approach to Patient Journey research, at BuzzBack we’re also focused on the changing consumer. Millennials, Gen X, and even Boomers are turning to digital tools, relying on smartphones and apps for news, weather and increasingly health info.

With more than 64% of adult US households having smartphones, the patient experience is no longer solely about the doctor relationship.

According to Hospitals & Health Networks, today’s patients are searching for doctors online, making appointments online, finding urgent care centers, monitoring their activity with wearables, etc. Healthcare marketers are creating detail aids and journal pieces, but also new apps and web-based support programs to get closer to patients. However, the underlying emotions driving their behavior are still similar. That means an even greater need to identify and deep dive into the patient journey. Developing effective tools, digital or other, stems from identifying insights linked to consumer emotions.

To find out more about how we obtained in-depth feedback by using imagery as a catalyst to map out the these 5 milestones of the patient experience, download our Patient Journey white paper now.

FDA Finally Admits… They Might Be Wrong.

Which one do you think is healthy between a handful of almonds and a Pop-Tart? Or between an avocado and a can of SpaghettiOs? Probably not the one you have in mind based on the current FDA definition. As explained in this recent article of the WSJ (or see the video below), food can only be marketed as healthy if it meets five criteria: fat, saturated fat, sodium, cholesterol and beneficial nutrients, such as vitamin C or Calcium.

But it might change. Under the pressure of some food companies the FDA admitted that it is time to revisit the definition of this term. At Buzzback we already explored the meaning of healthy at several occasions.

In 2013, BuzzBack conducted a study on consumers’ perception of ‘Healthy’ and found that it was associated with words one would expect to see – active, exercise, balance, and happiness; with unique callouts to predictable descriptors such as ‘organic,’ ‘wholesome,’ and ‘natural’ within various markets. And when we asked about healthy snacks, respondents mentioned across the globe fruit, yogurt, nuts, and dried fruit. In the US, they particularly focused on low sugar to define what makes a healthy snack, however the FDA doesn’t even list sugar as a criteria. The public definitely does not share the same definition as the FDA but the US regulator is ready to hear what they have to say as well as food experts.

Across many studies we conducted for our CPG clients, we observe that consumers want more clarity in the labels of products they buy at their grocery store. Beyond helping the FDA to redefine overused mentions as ‘healthy’ or ‘natural,’ food manufacturers have to work more broadly on making their labels more transparent to answer the consumers’ request for a clean label. Stay tuned as we are working on a new study about clean labels as we continue to explore the meaning of healthy.

For more information on our Healthy, Natural or Sustainability studies, click here.


Tasked With Smart Spending or Zero Based Budgeting?

So let me guess… you are tasked with Smart Spending or Zero Based Budgeting? So we’ve heard….

Developing compelling concepts is an ongoing challenge for all of our clients. Creating a winner, of course, is the ultimate task – as so many new products fail. To mitigate risk, many of our clients often mandate processes that specify stage gates for taking concepts from idea to launch. However, the standard stage gate process can be time-consuming and costly, and may not be right for all concept challenges – especially with ‘smart spending’ and ‘zero-based budgeting’ dictating.

Most marketers are working under tighter timelines, smaller budgets and shrinking teams, more than ever before. That’s certainly what Ricola faced, when it hoped to launch a new product, Dual Action. The team had limited time to move the concept forward, optimize the packaging, and develop the ad campaign – and limited budget is the mandate always. Not only was the concept a departure from its Swiss herb heritage, it was also its first foray into the efficacy space.

DOWNLOAD NOW!   'Accelerating Concept Development' Case Study

Ricola chose to work with BuzzBack because we understand that developing a concept can be more like a journey than a sequential process. To move things along quickly, our process combines various steps to iterate the idea and ultimately develop the product in record time.



Ricola had a modest budget and just weeks until launch. In only 30 days, BuzzBack helped the team get the idea right, achieve clarity on how to articulate it, decide on the best pack, and determine the most effective ad/messaging.

By paralleling the learning and using our interactive techniques, Ricola accelerated their time to market with a winning idea. Dual Action has been one of their most successful product launches. In addition to the original cherry Menthol product, the product’s success led to the introduction of a subsequent flavor formulation, Honey Lemon.

Want to learn more? Download the Ricola Concept Development Case Study now.

Campbell’s Rewrites Its Recipe for Success

Few products are more iconic and nostalgia-evoking than the red-and-white can of Campbell’s chicken soup. How many American consumers associate that brand with cozy occasions, whether the comfort it brought on a sick day home from school or just simply as a quick and easy way to warm up on a rainy day?

But in what seems like an act of sacrilege to some, the Campbell’s Soup Company recently announced a change to the product formulation. The New York Times reported in November that “…the new version of its chicken noodle soup contains 20 ingredients, most of which can be found in the average home kitchen, compared with 30 in its previous incarnation…” Campbell’s CEO Denise M. Morrison said, “We’re closing the gap between the kitchen and our plants.”

As marketers, we give Campbell’s props. This is quite a bold move, messing around with a beloved brand. And one certainly not made haphazardly. With purchase and consumption of canned soup on the decline, and consumers seeking healthier alternatives to heavily processed foods (check out our Healthy whitepaper), Campbell’s clearly recognized the white space and emerging differentiation opportunities. Canny marketers (see what we did there?) turn to Attitude & Usage studies to uncover if in fact consumer behaviors are changing, and if so, then why and how.   What’s important when buying chicken soup? How do consumers decide what to buy or who do they purchase for? What do they use most often and why?

Campbell’s appears to have done just that, looking at current products and adjacent categories to grow share. According to the New York Times article, “…the company is banishing ingredients that today’s consumers don’t like and using advertising and social media to have a conversation with consumers about what it is doing. Acquisitions have also given Campbell toeholds in new markets and brought new ideas to the organization.”

In fact, just at the time of this blog post’s writing, the company announced that it was starting a venture capital fund to invest in food startups, hinting at opportunities inspired by farm-to-table, fresh food prep/delivery and healthy eating trends disrupting the big food industry. This comes shortly after the company announced that it was reversing its opposition to the labeling of GMO ingredients.

The risk of course is making sure that any innovation stays true to the brand consumers have grown to love. In our recent exploration of what Authenticity means to consumers, respondents told us that they are more likely to be loyal to companies they believe are authentic. Words and images associated with this conveyed ideas like “hand crafted” “simple” “pure” “natural” “trustworthy”.  Simplifying their soup is in line with these consumer expectations, and Campbell’s seems to be on sure footing. Taking the time to really understand consumer attitudes and usage can not only point to where a brand can go in familiar territory, but also how far it can push into new directions.

Patients (and Doctors) Are People Too

I attended a great conference the other day – the MRS Consumer Health and Wellbeing Conference. I was expecting to be baffled by lots of technical jargon and impenetrable specialist content – but, instead, was struck by how the key themes were relevant to all of us in our modern lives, whether we are consumers, patients, healthcare professionals… or even insights specialists like myself!

It brought home to me how humankind is undergoing huge societal shifts that are impacting us all with ever increasing intensity.

Unsurprisingly, a key theme was the enabling power of technology. It is driving fundamental changes in how we access the information we need to make informed choices and decisions. It’s changing how we share our stories and our lives, and how we support each other. It allows us to track our activities (I’m a fitbit user and also use to keep track of my exercise); there is even an app to help people cut down on their alcohol intake and, amazingly, to help people proactively manage their cancer journey.

If we overlay major demographic changes such as an ageing population in the West, we have a complex mix of change driving our lives. And the faster the fundamental fabric of life changes, the more important it is for organisations to talk (and listen) regularly with their end-users. Whether we think of them as consumers, users, patients or physicians they are all facing a complex array of decisions and choices, some rational, and many more intuitive and emotional.

I was really encouraged by the people-centricity of the organisations who presented. They are facing up to the changes, and realise that the only way to stay relevant is by actively engaging with the people that matter to their organisations… and doing it early, and often.

It seems to me that market research is performing an important role and has a healthy future ahead of it (pun intended).